There seems to be a good deal of confusion surrounding hollow point bullets, and the state of New Jersey has even enacted a partial ban on hollow points. This article is intended to help clear things up.

A jacked hollow point bullet

Hollow points, sometime called “dum dum”, “expanding point”, “controlled expansion”, “jacketed hollow point (JHP)”, etc. are a basically bullets which expand or “mushroom” after hitting their target. Leaving aside discussion of the technical differences between these names, such expansion makes the bullets more effective when defending yourself, less likely to over penetrate and injure innocent bystanders, and more humane when hunting animals. Each of these attributes of hollow point bullets are discussed below.

Hollow Point Bullets are More Effective When Defending Yourself

Hollow point bullets are more effective than their non expanding counterparts (such as full metal jacket bullets). This is because the front of a hollow point bullet will flatten out after it hits it target, causing the bullet to do more damage. Since self defense with a firearm is a life or death situation, the person defending themselves will want to stop an attacker as quickly as possible. The additional frontal diameter a hollow point offers is more likely to hit an attacker in a way that causes them to stop right then and there, before the attacker can harm the victim further.
This greater potential to inflict injury or death is what causes some people to vilify hollow point bullets, but such an opinion fails to consider the life or death situation of self defense. A person, by definition of self defense or defense of another, is not justified in firing their gun at another human unless it truly is to save their own life or the life of another innocent victim. Under these grave circumstances, a person is not only justified but also compelled to act, and when acting the innocent person who is defending themselves should have the best means of defense available. To use an analogy, saying that crime victims should not have access to hollow point bullets would be like saying that a crime victim must stop a home invader by using a butter knife instead of a butcher knife. Such an approach would favor the criminal who is in the wrong and out to harm an innocent. Furthermore, since criminals would ignore a hollow point ban (just as they ignore gun bans, and the laws against murder and robbery) the law abiding crime victim would be placed at a further disadvantage.

Hollow Point Bullets are Safer for Innocent Bystanders

Hollow point bullets are also safer for innocent bystanders, as a hollow point bullet is less likely to over penetrate and strike them. This is because the hollow point bullet will mushroom after hitting its target, and will therefore be less streamlined as it goes through its target. The result is that the hollow point bullet may not exit its target at all, or if it does exit it will do so at a much lower speed than a non hollow point bullet would. Even if the hollow point bullet does exit its target, it is now less able to penetrate walls or other surfaces, due to the way the front of the bullet flattened. Similarly, but to a lesser extent, the expanded hollow point bullet will also fly a shorter distance through the air, resulting in less likelihood of striking an innocent bystander.

Hollow Point Bullets are More Humane For Hunting

Generally speaking, hollow point bullets are more humane when hunting. Just as a hollow point bullet will have a better chance of quickly stopping an attacker when used in self defense, a hollow point bullet will have a better chance of quickly stopping the hunter’s target. A hollow point bullet is more likely to strike a deer or other animal’s vital organs, resulting in a quick and humane kill, instead than causing the animal to suffer. Even in countries such as the UK where hollow point bullets are widely banned, they can be acquired for the purpose of humane deer hunting. Indeed some areas *require* the use of hollow point bullets when hunting, to help ensure a humane kill.

Hopefully this short article has cleared up of the misconceptions surrounding hollow point bullets.